RECENT RECONVERSION DRIVE BY THE HINDU NATIONALIST ORGANISATIONS ASSUMES THAT CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS HAVE A HINDU “ESSENCE” IN THEM. BANNING EXITS FROM HINDUISM AND MAKING EX-HINDUS RENOUNCE THEIR ADOPTED FAITH CAN HELP THEM RECOGNISE THIS ESSENCE AND FURTHER ENSURE WELFARE OF THE COUNTRY. BUT ALL IS NOT WELL WITH THIS CALL OF “HOME COMING”, SAYS VIJAYESH LAL

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e-conversion was the flavour of the Christmas season in India this year. The season of advent never saw a day when the media did not carry the news of some re-conversion ceremony happening in India with reports of “x” number of Christians or Muslims converting to Hinduism. The groups that conduct the ceremony call it homecoming, or “Ghar Wapsi” and differentiate between conversion and re-conversions.

The re-conversion drive is not new although the issue came to national notice after an alleged re-conversion event in Agra organised by the Dharma Jagran Samanvay Samiti (DJSS) wherein 200 Muslims from at least 57 families were claimed to have been converted to Hinduism by the DJSS.

One of the alleged converts later told television news channels that ration cards, BPL (below poverty line) cards and Aadhar cards were promised by the organisers of the event. “We were told we will get ration card, Aadhar card, the police will not bother us. We are poor so what do we do?” he told the media.

The Agra event was followed by pronouncements from the DJSS and other groups of a planned re-conversion event in Aligarh wherein they intended to convert 4000 Christians and 1000 Muslim families on Christmas day.

On December 18, the national minorities day, Rajeshwar Singh, the head of DJSS told the national media that his organisation will make sure that India is cleansed of Christianity and Islam by 2021. Mr. Singh had earlier made news when on December 12; the media reported his appeal to fund the “costly” conversion movement to Hinduism in Uttar Pradesh. Undated letters and posters addressed by him sought a donation of Rupees 5 lakh for converting a Muslim and Rupees 2 lakh for the “ghar wapsi” of a Christian.

The noise of re-conversions, this advent, was also accompanied by pronouncements from various allies of the ruling government. Mr. Mohan Bhagwat of the RSS defended the re-conversion process and designated India a Hindu Rashtra (Nation). Mr. Togadia of the VHP went further and claimed, “At a point of time, the entire world was Hindu.” Sushma Swaraj, the current Minister for External Affairs also contributed to the controversy by demanding that the “ Bhagwat Geeta” be made the national book of India. On December 1, the Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti made communal remarks and used expletives in an election rally in New Delhi. BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj from Unnao, Uttar Pradesh also came under fire when he called Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, a patriot.

When the opposition cornered the Government in the Rajya Sabha during the winter session of the Parliament and demanded that the Prime Minister give a statement on the recent happenings, the government came out with a proposal of a nationwide anti-conversion law. This demand of the government is widely supported by various allies of the BJP and offshoots of the RSS and VHP. The council of ministers of the BJP including Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj have also come out strongly in support of such a move.

The Christmas season also saw the government calling the nation to observe Governance day in the honour of the Ex-Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday, December 25, which is also Christmas day. Schools and Universities were given notices to remain open, several government departments remained open despite contrary statements from the government, and there were massive debates on TV channels on the intention of the government and its attempt to sideline Christmas.